Netanyahu to Peres: We have a government
Prime minister informs president he's succeeded in forming a government after signing coalition deal with Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi; government to be sworn in Monday. Obama congratulates Netanyahu, says looking forward to working closely with the prime minister and new government'
Earlier on Saturday, he delivered the news to acting Knesset speaker Binyamin Ben Eliezer. The government is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday.
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"I have performed the task you have given me," Netanyahu told Peres. "We face a decisive year in the fields of security and economy, in efforts to promote peace and in Israelis' desire to effect change. There is cooperation in this government and I believe we will bring change to all Israeli citizens in all areas. That is my mission."
Peres congratulated Netanyahu and said, "Forming a government is a complex task and required tremendous efforts and resourcefulness. There are some problems but also many opportunities in the fields of security, society and peacemaking. The country needs it and the people need it – the time has come."
Netanyahu and Peres (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)
The White House issued a statement stating that President Obama "congratulates the Israeli people, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the new members of the Prime Minister’s governing coalition on the successful formation of Israel’s new government."
It was further stated that "President Obama looks forward to working closely with the prime minister and the new government to address the many challenges we face and advance our shared interest in peace and security. The United States places a high value on its deep and enduring bonds with Israel and the Israeli people.
"The President looks forward to further strengthening those bonds when he travels to Israel next week to meet with Israeli officials and to speak directly with the Israeli people."
On Friday, the Likud Beiteinu signed coalition agreements with Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi which will see Naftali Bennett's party gain control of a major part of the social-economic axis in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid will serve as finance minister. According to the agreement, if any minister is appointed deputy or vice prime minister, Lapid will receive the title too.
Likud faction meeting (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The deal has left the Likud with a relatively small number of portfolios and some Knesset members who were high on the party's list will go home empty handed. "Netanyahu will have a hard time ending this campaign without casualties," a Likud MK said. "There are chances of a major flare-up."
Netanyahu is slated to hold personal meetings with members of his factions and inform them of his decision on Sunday.
Tensions in the party are particularly high seeing as at least some of the MKs who ranked high in the primaries such as Yariv Levin, Miri Regev, Danny Danon, Zeev Elkin and Tzipi Hotovely will not get senior posts due to the small number of portfolios. It is currently estimated that Levin will serve as the next coalition chairman.
Meanwhile it was reported that Moshe Ya'alon, the designated defense minister, is expected to endorse the extension of Benny Gantz's term as IDF chief of staff. The extension is subject to a cabinet decision but is not expected to meet opposition. Gantz was appointed for a three-year term in February 2011.
Yitzhak Benhorin and Ron Ben-Yishai contributed to this report
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